When a woman suffers from betrayal trauma, she has a lot on her plate: physical symptoms like fatigue, lack of appetite, headaches, and body aches. She may experience depression, anxiety, mood swings and sleep disturbance. Life can seem chaotic as her body, mind, and home feel in disarray.
On top of that, women suffering from betrayal trauma also have to learn to navigate betrayal trauma triggers.
What is a Betrayal Trauma Trigger?
When a woman has experienced a significant relational betrayal, she is a victim of severe emotional abuse and will often suffer from a condition known as betrayal trauma. Similar to rape trauma syndrome and PTSD, betrayal trauma is severe and can be debilitating.
A betrayal trauma trigger happens when a woman’s brain picks up on something that reminds the protective part of herself, of the abuse. This is a defense mechanism that is meant to keep her safe from further abuse. Unfortunately, betrayal trauma often kicks victims of abuse into overdrive so that they can be triggered many times a day. This can cause women to live in a constant state of sorrow, grief, fear, anger, and/or rage.
I’m Feeling Triggered, Now What?
When women experience betrayal trauma triggers, it’s helpful to have some tools to process the experience and use it to help further the journey of healing.
How To Deal With Betrayal Trauma Triggers
- Reach Out For Support: when something as trivial as a leaf or an apple sends you into a full-blown panic attack, it’s helpful to have a safe, supportive friend available for a phone call or quick visit. While connection is wonderful, talking through and processing the trigger is essential to diffuse the fight-flight-freeze-fawn response and help you calm your sympathetic nervous system. Being able to talk through what has triggered you, what emotions you are feeling, and express those emotions in a safe, compassionate place is going to transform the experience from one of terror to one of growth.
- Breathe and Meditate: Taking one to five minutes to take deep belly breaths calms the body and mind, helping to diffuse the physical reactions that may be occurring as a result of the trigger. As you breathe and/or practice a simple meditation, you are soothing yourself from an experience that your body is interpreting as terror. Giving your body and mind time to slow down and become calm will help you to process the trigger.
- Evaluate Your Safety: At BTR, we believe in your intuition. Sometimes, triggers are only memories of abuse. However, triggers can also be your intuition, or “gut” telling you that you are not safe. Listen to those feelings. Look around you, evaluate what is happening, where you are, what is being said or done, and process those observations and feelings with a safe person. You know your level of safety better than anyone else. Honor your sacred sense of intuition and trust that your body and mind are working hard to keep you safe.
BTR.ORG Supports Victims of Emotional Abuse and Betrayal Trauma
At BTR, we understand how difficult it is to navigate life as a victim of emotional abuse and betrayal trauma. Triggers can make life unpredictable and scary, but they are also indicators of your level of safety: trust yourself.
Our BTR.ORG Group Sessions are available to you every day as you begin your journey to healing. Attend a session today.
Tune in to the free BTR Podcast and hear stories of fellow victims, surviving and triumphing over abuse.
Remember, you are not alone.